Originally Posted by MattTHEpainter
It seems like you care about your car, and I'm sorry about the inconsiderate person that hit it. I would highly recommend you going through your insurance, and sourcing out a reputable shop to do the work. Post in your local forum and find an auto body shop that does quality work. If you take the check and purchase the parts on your own it could end up being more than the check insurance is going to issue. Then you would not be able to receive a supplemental check from insurance to cover the remainder.
That aside to answer your questions:
*You could end up saving a little money sourcing the parts yourself, and doing the body work...but this could easily turn into a headache. Without having proper experience you could cause more damage to your car, and the end result could be an unsatisfactory finish.
*Yes, if you got a different color door the "edging in" process will be more labor. Search Car-parts.com and you may get lucky with a door the same color.
*To refinish the entire side I would venture a guess of $750-1500, really depends on the shop.
*Most decent body shops do not like touching a car after the customer has began the repair process. They will not be able to warranty any work if they didn't do the complete job. I use the analogy, "would you bring a steak you seasoned to a restaurant and ask them to cook it for you?". They're could be a shop that would work with you with pricing based on what you have accomplished, but I would avoid that.
Sorry to hear about the crappy body shop experiences, and that is just unacceptable. Like I previously stated, do some research and find a shop with an excellent reputation.
I looked at the pictures and suggest leaving it up to insurance and a body shop, but let me know if you have any other questions.
I'm an estimator at a shop in redding ca. I agree with your assessment. Defiantly go through the insurance and have a good shop fix the car it will be money better spent in the long run. I would recommend asking if the shop will work with you on your deductible. We work with people whenever we can. Let me know of you have any questions.